Black mothers and the nation : claiming space and crafting signification for the black maternal body in American women's narratives of slavery, reconstruction, and segregation, 1852-2001

Cardinal Scholar

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor Mix, Deborah M. Wolfe, Andrea P. en_US
dc.coverage.spatial n-us--- en_US 2011-06-09T15:28:57Z 2011-06-09T15:28:57Z 2010 en_US 2010
dc.description Access to thesis permanently restricted to Ball State community only
dc.description.abstract “Black Mothers and the Nation” tracks the ways that texts produced by United States women throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries position the black maternal body as subversive to the white patriarchal power structure for which it labored and that has acted in many ways to abject it from the national body. This study points to the ways in which the black mother’s subversive potential has been repeatedly, violently, and surreptitiously circumscribed in some quarters even as it succeeds in others. Several important thematic threads run throughout the chapters of this study, sometimes appearing in clear relationship to the texts discussed and sometimes underwriting their analysis in less obvious ways: the functioning of the black maternal body to both support the construction of and undermine white womanhood in slavery and in the years beyond; the reclamation of the maternal body as a site of subversion and nurturance as well as erotic empowerment; the resistance of black mother figures to oppressive discourses surrounding their bodies and reproduction; and, finally, the figurative and literal location of the black mother in a national body politic that has simultaneously used and abjected it over the course of centuries. Using these lenses, this study focuses on a grouping of women’s literature that depicts slavery and its legacy for black women and their bodies. The narratives discussed in this study explore the intersections of the issues outlined above in order to get at meaningful expressions of black maternal identity. By their very nature as representations of historical record and regional and national realities, these texts speak to the problematic placement of black maternal bodies within the nation, beginning in the antebellum era and continuing through the present; in other words, these slavery, Reconstruction, and segregation narratives connect personal and physical experiences of maternity to the national body.
dc.description.sponsorship Department of English
dc.description.tableofcontents The subordination of embodied power : sentimental representations of the black maternal body in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's cabin and Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the life of a slave girl -- Recuperating the body : the black mother's reclamation of embodied presence and her reintegration into the black community in Pauline Hopkins's Contending forces and Toni Morrison's Beloved -- The narrative power of the black maternal body : resisting and exceeding visual economies of discipline in Margaret Walker's Jubilee and Sherley Anne Williams's Dessa Rose -- Mapping black motherhood onto the nation : the black maternal body and the body politic in Lillian Smith's Strange fruit and Alice Randall's The wind done gone -- Michelle Obama in context.
dc.format.extent 439 p. : digital, PDF file. en_US
dc.source CardinalScholar 1.0 en_US
dc.subject.lcsh African American mothers in literature en_US
dc.subject.lcsh American literature--Women authors--History and criticism
dc.subject.lcsh American literature--19th century--History and criticism
dc.subject.lcsh American literature--20th century--History and criticism
dc.title Black mothers and the nation : claiming space and crafting signification for the black maternal body in American women's narratives of slavery, reconstruction, and segregation, 1852-2001 en_US Thesis (Ph. D.) en_US
dc.identifier.cardcat-url en_US

Files in this item

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • Doctoral Dissertations [3121]
    Doctoral dissertations submitted to the Graduate School by Ball State University doctoral candidates in partial fulfillment of degree requirements.

Show simple item record

Search Cardinal Scholar


My Account